Friday, July 21, 2006

The Great Gonorrhoea Outbreak of 1990

As a nursing student in Portsmouth I didn’t really get to attend many lectures but I certainly managed to attend a great number of parties. I only got caught out when after 8 months into the course I felt guilty enough to attend a regular Wednesday tutorial session. “Are you new?” the lecturer asked and of course my cover was blown as I blustered incompetently something about being in the wrong classroom.

As an 18-year-old guy, straight from home and into an accommodation block with 52 student nurses, life was suddenly very good indeed. Friends who went to male dominated university courses elsewhere turned an interesting shade of green and some showed a sudden interest in having me as one of their best friends. With a female dominated environment and mythically synchronised menstrual cycles, a good number of parties were built from combinations of local navy lads and the nursing students, leading to a hormonally driven trail of broken hearts, broken promises, drunken misunderstandings and virtually limitless one night love affairs.

The Great Gonorrhoea Outbreak of 1990 curtailed such activities for a week or two, but after a mass administration of antibiotics and a noticeable drop in alcohol sales at the local bar, normal activities were reinstated with a renewed, if not more cautious, passion. However, owing to a slight indiscretion of one particularly “popular” person who had failed to complete the course of anti-bugs, The Great Gonorrhoea Outbreak of 1990 returned to re-infect those whose livers had undoubtedly been grateful for the respite.

Sensing a gap in the market the local bar installed condom machines (choice of ribbed or fruit flavoured) in both sets of toilets but they never did get round to replacing that missing toilet seat.

Yet in the midst of all the Bacchanalian revelry, every once in a while something more lasting would develop into what could be called a “proper” relationship.

I remember the general surprise concerning the sudden ending of one such proper partnership. Young, Christian and born-again-believers (two doses of the clap in quick succession can change one’s mind quite rapidly about morality, so I understand) these two were tipped as potentially being the first marriage of the group. However what we see on the outside doesn’t always translate to what occurs on the inside and this guy’s previously secret transvestism and fetish for nurse’s uniforms had finally pushed his girlfriend to the limit.

“He really didn’t look good in tights” his girlfriend was heard to have said one day, “he just didn’t have the legs for it.”

Funnily enough, after the public revelations about his wardrobe preferences we never saw him again. Rumour had it that he and his pet rat moved to Brighton with a man called Michael the following day.

Another one who vanished was Chris. A naval officer, one day he went to the shop for a pint of milk and never returned. We suspect that it had something to do with the not insignificant issue of his girlfriend of one month having just told him about her exciting new pregnancy. Ever since I first met her she had been telling everyone that she intended to find herself a man and when she got one fall pregnant by him straight away.

So the rest of us knew long before the hapless Chris that she’d bagged her officer and really wasn’t going to let him go very easily. Now this really wasn’t a good example of thinking things through properly and unsurprisingly [to us guys] Chris was gone faster than she could splutter “child support.”

Richard Bandler talks of a similar strategy when needing to escape an unwanted social interaction at parties, “I am just going for a packet of cigarettes” has now become a code sign between my friends for, “I’m getting the hell out of here, meet you outside in 10 minutes.”

Several buckets of tears, a discreet absence and a swift abortion later and she was back on form. So she then fucked Chris’s supposed best friend as a supposed act of revenge whilst the irony was that the best friend was fucking her apparently only in order to “get one over” on Chris.

With Chris nowhere in sight, both boasted of their conquest and in a strange twist of intentions got married very soon afterwards. Interestingly maybe, this marriage lasted only as long as it took news about Chris to filter through to the effect that the inconsiderate bastard had found himself a more suitable and very leggy partner and had long since left Portsmouth to settle down somewhere happily in Spain.